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Come They Told Me

Pretty thing, isn’t it?” – Bing to Bowie

I can now confirm that my infrequent posting here is the direct result of negotiations to sell this blog space to Elon Musk in early 2023. Not sure where he’ll find the time but I understand he plans on writing bi-weekly updates on my life, as well as sending reusable rockets to space, inhabiting Mars, improving his electric car, and putting a chip in everybody’s brain. There were signs that this guy might be an overachiever when he pulled off the first successful hair transplant in human history some years back (take that, Jeff Bezos) while simultaneously claiming the title of Palest African American. It’s true that nobody likes a show off but I don’t walk in lockstep with the anti-Elon crowd. His fall from grace may be inevitable given the sheer number of impossible challenges and powerful enemies he’s taken on. Still, it makes for enjoyable sideline viewing. A friend recently proclaimed him the “New Trump” but I’m pretty sure if you put those two brains side by side on the same stainless steel table, you’d notice distinct differences. (Beyond the prototype Elon Chip implanted in one of them.) It’s also fun to picture him in the Twitter building, pulling all-nighters in one of the worst San Francisco neighborhoods going (believe me, I know) whilst stepping out at three in the morning for a bag of pork rinds from Asad Market. He’s living proof that kicking it full-time on a Spanish beach just won’t cut it for some billionaires.

Contrast all of this with the lives of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, who were paid $100 million by Netflix to dish the dirt on the royals and bitch about how tough they’ve had it. Both examples (Elon and the Sussexes ) are enveloped in narcissism but they move in distinctly different societal circles. Musk buddies up with Dave Chappelle and shares World Cup boxes with Jared Kushner while Harry And Meghan prefer brunching with Oprah, George and Amal Clooney, and Elton John. Though E.J. may be switching affiliation if Elon can show him a way around stapling that ridiculous hamster to his head. Elon and Elton may be separated by a single consonant, but the teams they play for are diametrically opposed. You can attempt to straddle the dividing line but these days it’s either pick a side or let someone else apply the label for you. It is required for even the most polite conversation or banal blog entry.

I, of course, have chosen the side of Good. It didn’t take much consideration. All formerly heroic indicators were pointing in this direction. Take David Letterman, a man brave enough to pull back the curtain and reveal the pompous reality of celebrity worship back in the early 80s. A guy who knew what mattered, and more importantly, what was funny. It didn’t concern him if the audience wasn’t quite in on the joke of Chris Elliott doing his Marv Albert impersonation and thanking his “musical director and long time friend Leo Sayer.” Dave’s instincts cut to the core of the relevant even in its most irreverent form. Same with these days. Caught him the other night doing one of his post Late Show spectacles, once again for the inseparably virtuous folks at Netflix. He’d flown to Ukraine (or is it “the Ukraine”) to interview the Great Zelensky in the grittiest of remote locations, an underground subway station. The lead-up footage showed Old Dave toting his modest duffel bag and wearing a workingman’s English cap while boarding a cramped, single train compartment. “Is this me?” he asks, and then “this is all I need .. this is all anybody needs.” All those years of studio apartment living have tilted him toward the appreciative. I think Peter Jackson may have been involved in the production; it somehow married all the authenticity of an eastern European underground with the flash of a late night network talk show. The sound of the rumbling subway cars was prominent but only occasional, and faded to perfectly mixed audio after they passed. And Letterman was sublime, fawning over this noble (if diminutive) man with proper humility and deference (much as our Congress would some time later.) It was all reminiscent of his first meeting with Cher, even if Zelensky didn’t call him an asshole. All was good, all was true.

Speaking of which, I lied. My infrequent posting isn’t the result of some rich guy taking over the helm but rather the product of age and discretion. I get the occasional idea (see the above) but quickly figure “what’s the point?” Not in a pathetic depressive way, mind you, but more in an accepting one’s fate and position way. I don’t have a sound crew to dial back the rumbling of trains in my head. Where to go from here? In this sense I’m not much different from Elon, once you get past the billions thing. And the genius, hair, ambition, and scrubbing carbon from the atmosphere things. And a few dozen other things. OK .. I’m nothing like him. Point is, we’re all just degreed versions of sorry bastards trying to see our way through. Or, if you prefer, enlightened Children of God tripping from one blessing to the next. It all works; it’s all good. Another friend and I were once discussing relative life philosophies and he said that he didn’t “trust the guys who go around acting like they’ve got it all figured out.” I don’t really trust anyone, so this distinction did little for me. Besides, I don’t think these guys are much different from the “look how wise I am” self-consciously cynical types. They’re just more fun to make fun of if you happen to lean in a certain direction. Then there’s the ladies, but I’ll leave them to the guys with everything figured out.

My dad, who died a while back, was a frequent reader of my blog. He’d give advice: “write more about other people and less about yourself”, opinions: “Bonds is a jerk but he’s the greatest hitter I’ve ever seen ..”, and comments: “enjoyed this piece but once people read what you said about me all hell is going to break loose.” Sure, he may have had an exaggerated idea of our respective reaches, but he cared. Once, when he was eighty and we were shacked up in a Marriott travel lodge during a family emergency, he told me: “I don’t know why I get up every morning and keep doing it. I think I’m just curious how it will all turn out.” I included this line eulogizing him. He was a guy who struggled with religion but if you ask me he had it down pat. I used to have some form of this same curiosity but it dissipated shortly after childhood. I also used to look forward to Christmas, so make of this what you will. Good place for a Chauncey Gardiner quote but I’ll hold off. Discretion, valor, ho ho ho.

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